Five-year-old plans for the Bridgehampton Gateway Study will be revived and fine-tuned by the developer in time for him to present them to the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee at their next meeting on Monday, November 24.
By Mara Certic
For five years plans for a new development across the street from the Bridgehampton Commons shopping center have been collecting dust, but Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst is hoping to polish up the Bridgehampton Gateway project.
Ms. Throne-Holst attended the Monday night meeting of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee for the second month in a row to float the idea of reviving conversations about a rezoning of the Konner property on Montauk Highway into a Planned Development District (PDD).
The 13-acre site is currently zoned for a mix of highway business and residential uses. The highway business zoning restricts the type of businesses allowed in the development to shops one might see alongside County Road 39, Southampton Town Planner Kyle Collins explained on Monday night.
PDDs, he and Ms. Throne-Holst said, allow the town to rezone lots it believes could better serve their communities and also allow town boards and the community to have a say in the development process.
Several years ago, the town suggested making this property a PDD, dubbing it the Bridgehampton Gateway project. After substantial public comment and input, the plans “fell apart because of some land management issues,” Ms. Throne-Holst said.
All 13 acres are now under common ownership, litigation related to the land is done and Ms. Throne-Holst is ready to reopen the conversation about the PDD, citing a concern that the current zoning is not adequate.
“Perhaps there’s a zoning component to this that doesn’t serve the community as best it could,” she said on Monday.
Another advantage of the town creating a PDD is that it requires the developer to include something in the plans to benefit the community. Mr. Collins and Ms. Throne-Holst said the specifics of just what that public benefit could be could be suggested by the community and could be one of many, many things. Open space, affordable housing and a walk-in clinic were all discussed as possibilities during Monday night’s meeting.
“Some of the public benefit is the design,” explained Mr. Collins, who showed old plans for the project, which included using farm-like buildings in order to build on the agricultural history of Bridgehampton.
During talks of public benefits, one woman stopped the conversation to bring up CVS, what she referred to as “the big elephant in the room.” Greg Konner, one of the developers, explained the property being discussed was currently not zoned for pharmacy uses, but that if it were to become a PDD, it could theoretically house, say a 9,050 square-foot chain drug store.
Mr. Konner joked that having a CVS in the proposed Bridgehampton Gateway project, as opposed to on the busy corner it’s planned for, could be the public benefit Bridgehamptonites are looking for.
Peter Wilson, a member of the CAC, was keen to remind Mr. Konner not to suggest that a big-box store such as a King Kullen or a CVS should be considered a public benefit. Mr. Wilson also expressed some concern that the developer would still make the final decisions and the CAC would be left in a situation of having to react after the fact, like with CVS.
The planners and supervisor assured Mr. Wilson that making the parcel a PDD would be one of the few ways to ensure the community does have some say in what ends up there.
“I say, for the love of God, let’s try it and not shoot it down by 9 o’clock at night,” CAC-member Fred Camman said at about 8:45 p.m. on Monday.
After ample discussion on the topic, the members of the CAC decided to throw their support behind the PDD project and passed a resolution to that effect.
Mr. Konner told the CAC he and his family, who own the property, were looking forward to “moving hand in hand with you guys to come up with a comprehensive plan we’re all happy with.” He said they will work on new plans and present them to the CAC at their next meeting on Monday, November 24.
Earlier in the meeting, former Peconic Baykeeper Kevin McAllister, who is now heading up an organization Defend H20, gave a presentation on the need to further protect and restore East End groundwater.